Drive for 75: Resources from Week 29

Workforce | September 23, 2021 | by Dee Pekruhn, Jill Schumann

LeadingAge Coronavirus Update Calls feature brief segments called “Drive for 75” to promote the successful vaccination of at least 75% of our aging services providers’ workforce, and as needed, residents. We will cover developments in the news, research, and innovative practices that support our members in attaining high vaccination rates.

This Week’s Highlights:

Volume Sixty-Eight: Air Date 9.20.21. “This is Our Shot”

If you’re listening to this segment, you might be thinking; “So, I’ve gotten my COVID shot, I’ve learned as much as I can about the vaccine facts and myths, and I’ve tried to talk with folks about getting their shots. But I’m still really worried about how many people around me are vaccine hesitant. What else can I do?” The good folks at “This is our shot” have a job for you: become a vaccine advocate!

ThisIsOurShot is a national, grassroots coalition of healthcare heroes and allies that aims to build vaccine-trust for a COVID-free world and combat misinformation by elevating the voices of healthcare heroes as trusted messengers through stories, photos, and videos. This is our shot to get back to the things we love and miss most in our daily lives.

If you download the Welcome Toolkit, you’re provided with all you need to create a positive social media presence about the vaccine, complete with sample posts for Facebook, Twitter, etc. There’s a huge library of branding materials, pithy memes, and sample “ally” posts for specific communities. Have a membership, or group of staff and residents that you need to message? There’s a sample letter for that, too.

Next, you’ll see a “Start the Conversation Guide,” available in both English and Spanish. This easy-to-follow handout includes suggestions for effective word choices, and messaging dos and don’ts. For example, DO emphasize that getting the vaccine will help you catch up on “moments missed,” but DON’T use guilt or shaming as a mechanism to convince. As for language choices, DO say, “Public Health” and “Health Medical Experts and Doctors”, DON’T say “government” or “scientists.”

This is Our Shot offers you a free 60 minute training to complete your preparation as an advocate, as well as a series of helpful, short videos on a variety of topics and challenges you may encounter. These include: Dealing with Anti-Vaxxers; Messaging for the Ultra Hesitant; “LatinX Communities” and the “Disinformation Dozen.” I’ll just break down one of these helpful and timely videos for you: Messaging for the Ultra Hesitant.

In this video, Crystal Son from Civis Analytics discusses how attitudes towards vaccination have changed, and that 56% of Americans are still unvaccinated. Following a study they conducted on effective messaging about the vaccine, they found that, of the six core messaging tactics (back to normal; safety; scary stats; personal stories; patriotism; personal decision) the most effective were these two: Back to Normal and Personal Decision. The other four were found to be either ineffective or led to negative backlash – meaning they reinforced that person’s hesitancy, rather than disarming it.

As we head further into mandate territory, I share this with you because it’s important that we continue to try to persuade people, to voice our support for the vaccine using facts and compassion, and hope that people will make the choice to get vaccinated rather than abandon their job or career to remain unvaccinated. Afterall, the most effective way to really help someone is to convince them to help themselves, right? So if you’re serious about wanting everyone to get vaccinated, consider becoming an advocate, and encourage others to as well.

Volume Sixty-Nine: Air Date 9.22.21. “The Art of Negotiation”

We are still working to increase the number of people vaccinated and experts from many fields are weighing in on how best to convince people.

G. Richard Shell, a professor of legal studies and business ethics at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania is a specialist in negotiation and persuasion. He discusses factors that have divided the nation into two distinct groups with respect to vaccines, and shares communication strategies that may better resonate with people who remain opposed. He focuses on two things – mistrust of experts, and fundamental attribution bias.

Many people who do not understand the scientific process have developed an intensifying mistrust of public health experts. When information about COVID-19 began to emerge, officials from the CDC and other public health agencies said mask wearing wasn't necessary.

Since then, scientists' understanding of how the virus spreads has advanced, with research now showing that masks are an important mitigation tool. While most science is conducted iteratively giving researchers time to dissect data before offering public advice, there was no time for that during a worsening COVID-19 pandemic.

With the virus moving fast, much of the scientific messaging was done publicly. For the average person, who may not recognize that studying a disease is a rolling adventure, the communication discrepancies have become a source of suspicion. They think the experts are supposed to have the answers, and here, we've seen the experts change their minds. So, helping people to understand why this is the case may be helpful.

Also, when people have strongly held beliefs, they see the opposing view as much more than a different viewpoint. Schell says, "When you have passionately held beliefs, people are invested in them with their identity. They see the contrary … as a threat to their worldview — an existential threat.”

In a conflict, people often regard themselves as acting rationally, but tend to see the other person's behavior as evidence of their character or personality — a concept called the fundamental attribution bias. You can see this in the current vaccine-related tensions. When people simply wave off vaccine opponents as careless or irrational, that's fundamental attribution bias at play — a cognitive bias known to escalate conflict, yet one that is extremely common.

“You can’t convince someone to change a belief. You can only give them information, options, other places to go and get the information to help them change their own beliefs. You have to give up on the idea that you've got some magic power."

As we have said before, trust and source credibility are invaluable when it comes to persuasion, but not everyone regards the same experts as credible. This creates a potential opening for leaders struggling to get through to staff members who are opposed to the vaccine. Instead of over-relying on known public health experts and government officials to deliver the messaging, think about who else people consider credible.

Schell also suggests connecting with community members or employees who used to oppose the COVID-19 vaccine and have changed their minds. "Let's have workshops and people can listen to the testimony of the people who changed their minds … let those people speak instead of the people in authority." This may help to overcome fundamental attribution bias.

And while it seems simple on the surface, listening and understanding go a long way when communicating with others who have opposing views. That's usually the beginning of a good conflict management strategy; to be able to see the other person's point of view and not endorse it but to say, 'You know, I can see how people might think that, and it's not just carelessness or perversity or some sort of irrationality that can't be understood.'"